“Task successful” flashed across the Kairali News TV (a Malayalam television channel) as the reporter, Heidi Shaadiya, was reporting on Vikram Lander separating from the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter on Monday. Apart from the fact that Chandrayaan-2 was a step closer to making a soft landing on the moon's south pole, this report caught the attention of many; it was reported by one of Kerala’s first trans woman journalists.
The reportage on Chandrayaan-2 was 22-year-old Heidi’s first assignment after she formally joined the media organisation on August 31. “Soon after my post-graduation course in electronic media from Trivandrum Institute of Journalism, I joined Kairali for an internship. The company soon offered me a post after evaluating my performance and I took it up. Besides, I feel like I’m part of a family here, where there is no discrimination of any sort because of my gender,” Heidi tells TNM, soon after her live reporting for the day. Heidi was the first trans woman journalist to graduate from the institute.
Even as she confidently does her job as a journalist, Heida hopes, one day, her parents will be proud of her and accept her. Heida left her house at the age of 18 because her parents refused to accept her.
It was at the age of 10 that Heidi realised she felt different – though she was assigned male at birth, she grew up to identify as a woman.
“Besides, I also had a condition called gynecomastia (swelling of the breast tissue in boys due to hormonal imbalance). I had minor features of a girl. During lunch breaks, the boys in my school would press my breasts and run away; as it is, with the condition, the person experiences pain. I could not open up about this to my friends or family,” Heidi says.
Although her parents were aware of her changes, like many parents, they, too, refused to accept their child’s gender identity. “Initially, they kept ignoring my changes. But I came out to them when I was doing my graduation. When they refused to accept me, it led to arguments and I left my house,” she says.
In 2016, she underwent the gender confirmation surgery – also known as sex reassignment surgery – in Bengaluru. Determined to carve out a good future for herself, she completed her education, too.
“I tried calling my parents almost every day for two years but they refused to talk to me. In fact, they verbally abused me so much that, today, I am terrified to call them,” Heidi says.
She is, however, confident that her parents will, one day, realise that their child is living her dream. “My mother wanted me to be a journalist. That is one of the reasons I chose this profession. They might be happy seeing me on television. I want to fight for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community through journalism,” she says.